walk the talk

I appreciate current, young celebrities who not only have integrity within themselves but have also taken the extra step of declaring their essential truths to consumers of celebrity. In this regard, Andy Warhol was a fundamental, if not iconoclastic, member of the early vanguard who paved the way for all of us, from the day he arrived in New York City in 1949 at the age of twenty, through no greater effort than his example of never compromising or hiding himself.

I live in Cambodia. Unlike Thailand, which has a richer linguistic vocabulary and slightly broader examples with which discussing variations of human emotionality and sexuality is somewhat commonplace, the Khmer language has only one very disparaging word to discribe everyone that is not explicitly heterosexual. Additionally, societal roles are equally restricted by the limited choice of anachronistic and inadequate words available to discuss matters of psychology, sexuality, and gender identiy. Despite this appalling linguistic inadequacy, which can lead to cultural conflicts the moment any verbal conversation about love or sex is attempted, Cambodians as a whole, like me, admire and respect anybody who “walks with dignity & confidence.”

This took some getting used to for me several years ago. As an American, I was weened on popular psychology that advocated talking about my feelings to the point of nausea. In my new home, I very soon learned that anything I did or felt was acceptable as long as I did not explicitly “talk” about it. To do so, would call into question a centuries old tradition of not using words to discuss one’s individuality. By no means do I suggest subverting one’s truth for the comfort of others. Rather, I have learned how to accept myself deeper and to hold my head higher.

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